Two images side by side. Left side is of a woman using a nail gun to install wood slats. The right image is of a woman looking at a shelf of different nails at a hardware store.

How to choose the right nails for a home project

Navigating the world of tools for your DIY home project can be a bit of a challenge at first. We still remember our first visit to Home Depot in search of the right nails - who knew there were so many different kinds?! 😂 Here are some tips for choosing the right nails for your home project.

Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails vs. Pin Nails

Let’s start with the different types of nails. 

Brad nails are smaller in diameter than finishing nails and have a smaller head. They’re good for woodworking projects and are best for thin or narrow pieces of wood.

Finish nails are, you guessed it, thicker in diameter than brad nails and can leave holes that need to be filled but their thickness creates a stronger hold. They’re good for more substantial projects like installing a new door.

Pin nails are thin and delicate and almost invisible when used. They’re often used to keep two pieces of wood together until the glue dries.

For this article, we’ll be referring to brad nails.


First, consider the length. If you are nailing a piece of wood against a wall, make sure your brad nail is three times longer than the material’s (the wood's) thickness. For example, if your wood is 0.5”, go for a brad nail that is 1.5” long.


Next, check the nail gauge. Higher numbers mean thinner nails, while lower numbers are thicker. Thinner nails are less likely to split wood and are less noticeable in the wood, and thicker ones offer more strength.

Match your nail gun to the nail thickness. An 18-gauge nail gun fits 18-gauge nails. Simple, right?

In our accent walls, we opted for an 18-gauge nail for a discreet look and sturdy hold during adhesive glue drying.

Pro tip: test the nail on a scrap piece of wood, especially if this is the first time you’re using a nail gun. It helps to get a feel for the nail gun before starting.

Have questions? Send us a DM on Instagram!

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